In an ideal world, you would have 1 to 2 hours a day to devote to your own yoga practice; however, sometimes as a parent, it simply isn’t a possibility. Why not embrace your ability to multitask by integrating a physical yoga routine into your child’s playtime?
The playground is chock-full of equipment (and kids!) that can support your yoga practice, creativity, and playtime with your little ones. Check out these poses you can easily practice in the great outdoors while your kids play.
1. Downward Dog on Everything
Of course, you can stand on the sidelines and do some Sun Salutations while your kids play, but the playground is breeding ground for creative movement. Look for surfaces on which you can do your beloved Dog pose. You’ll get a great stretch in your back, shoulders, and legs, and can incorporate some core stability by testing your balance. Plus, your kids will get a kick out of playing on, under, or around you.
2. Lunges Everywhere
A lunge is another easy posture you can do just about anywhere. You can lunge on the ground in a traditional way, or you can place your front foot on a raised surface and lean in as far as you like. Try to keep your bent knee above your ankle, so as not to put too much pressure on the joints.
3. Standing Chaturanga Pushups
Stand about two arm lengths away from a stable surface, and line your body up into a plank shape. You’ll be surprised how much this simple shape can challenge your chest, shoulders, and leg muscles. With a chaturanga pushup in mind, bend your elbows to 90 degrees, while keeping your body in the shape of a plank (that is, try not to stick your butt out). Then, straighten your arms again as you exhale. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Tip from the pros: It helps if you have a cutie to smooch on the way down!
4. Sit and Play: Folds and Side Bends
Don’t forget about the simple moments, like when your child is playing in the sandbox. You can take advantage of every possible opportunity by simply paying attention to how you sit and hold your posture. For a deeper stretch, straddle your legs and play with folding forward and moving your spine through a full range of motion. Your children will know you’re paying attention to them, and at the same time you’ll be waking up your muscles, breathing deeply, and setting a great example for mindfulness and body awareness.
5. Open Your Hips with Figure 4
If you’re not afraid to get dirty, feel free to get all the way down to the ground into a Pigeon Pose, but for a simpler hip opener, simply cross one ankle over the opposite knee for a delightful (and discreet) stretch of the glutes, hips, and low back. Rock your pelvis forward and try to keep your spine as straight as possible; by doing this, you’ll isolate your hip joint and intensify the stretch.
6. Simon Says
Your kids want to do what you’re doing; they’re your biggest fans! See if they can do what you do … touch their toes, balance on one foot, walk on their hands! Start a good old-fashioned game of Simon Says, and see what they’re capable of. Chances are they’re even more flexible than you are.
On one hand, taking your kids to the playground gives you an excellent opportunity to practice your yoga postures. But even more importantly, your yoga practice is what allows you to be physically active on the playground in the first place. By mindfully moving your body, breathing deeply, and staying strong, you ensure yourself a lifetime of playground sessions with your kids (and grandkids), so don’t let an opportunity pass you by to stay mobile and vibrant for the ones you love.